It’s important to fix your child’s stomach aches. It’s surprising how many parents don’t realize their kids hurt. Children don’t know tummies are not supposed to hurt. They may think it’s normal. (That would be the younger me). Or no one ever asked.
I always ask kids and teens in my clinic if anything hurts. The question can surprise them, especially if they’re seeing me for allergies. But explaining that pain (or constipation, gas, diarrhea) is not right and we want to fix it helps them understand WHY we’ll be changing their diet.
For other kids, stomach aches become a negotiating factor when they want out of doing something. It can be a problem figuring out real tummy aches from imaginary ones.
Either way, it’s important to address. Here’s why.
5 Reasons to Fix Your Child’s Stomach Aches
- Finding food allergies and intolerances can save a lifetime of health issues. Gut inflammation can cause malabsorption of critical growth nutrients and impair hormone production. Certain foods, such as dairy, tend to cause ear and sinus infections and lead to unwanted antibiotics.
- If they feel better off sodas, bread and milk but still get gas, bloating or pain, could there be infection? Candida is common in children who’ve had multiple antibiotics or were born by Cesarean. Or those eating lots of sweets, sodas and juice. Giardia picked up from daycare or dirty hands can also be an issue, usually causing loose stool and cramping pain.
- Ask your child to point where it hurts. Make them be specific. They might point to the bladder, appendix (lower right side), throat or anywhere! I’ve had more than one child point to the urinary tract and genitals and found a bladder infection, vaginitis or painful rash.
- Helping a child make the connection between what they eat and how they feel is a powerful thing. I’ve had 6 year olds run in my office, hug me, and happily explain they don’t hurt anymore since they stopped eating pizza or milk! Explain how stress causes stomach aches. That’s a revelation for most people.
- No matter the cause – food intolerance, infection, or stress causing irritable bowel, it’s never too early to prevent (or heal) Leaky Gut. Young kids are sicker these days and in my experience, when we’re chronically unwell, we have Leaky Gut. Read and listen to learn more about that here and here.
Foods and Supplements for the Gut
Once you’re sure it’s gut pain, start looking for patterns based on what they ate. Here’s one page of the 7 Day Food Diary my new clients fill out. You can learn a lot from this if you really detail it. Notice where it asks “How did you feel today? Why?” Make notes of what the day was like. Stressful? School trip? Burgers and Milk Shake w. upset tummy 1 hour later? Headaches, body odors, nightmares? All of these can point to a food intolerance. Or even Celiac…
Here’s my article on foods for Irritable Bowel. It’s my own version of low-FODMAPS, GAPS, Specific Carbohydrate Diet and Paleo rolled into one. It’s how I manage my own unhappy gut, even after grain-free, dairy-free and mostly starch-free.
This Chamomile Extract is excellent for colic and upset bellies for all ages. It’s also calming and helpful for getting better sleep. I’ve chosen this herbal company as they are very pro-active about their extraction process and never use chemicals as many large herb companies do.
There are specific probiotics for different age groups children. Organic 3 has an excellent variety. Udo’s Choice Flora for Children is a good one. I personally find Pre-Biotics a problem for those with Irritable Bowel or FODMAPS issues. I stay away from them….
Here’s a previous article on helping your child’s tummy ache that explains more about an elimination diet. I always ask the whole family, or at least the Mom, to do food eliminations at the same time. Make it an experiment, not a punishment! Once a child discovers the link between a food and a stomach ache, they can be pretty dedicated to having parents help them avoid that ingredient.